No one will ever know what could have been for Ballarat.
A drought-breaking year that saw the Swans make finals for the first time since 2014 came to an end in unceremonious fashion.
Fifty-three days separated Ballarat's last game and the cancellation of the finals series. Seven weeks of pondering what heights an already over-achieving group could reach.
The Swans' season started in the spotlight.
The recruitment of three-time Hawthorn premiership defender Josh Gibson brought noise and excitement to the club, but it was punctured by the realisation there was still work to do on the football field.
Gibson didn't play round one, a pre-season setback ruling him out for some weeks to come.
Instead, a fellow AFL alum stood up in his place.
Andrew Hooper, the league's leading goalkicker in 2019, continued where he left off, leading the Swans to a come-from-behind win against Bacchus Marsh.
It would prove costly, though.
The former Western Bulldogs small forward suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him for two months.
A lack of experience would cost the Swans in round two, as lapses and ill-discipline saw them fall to a two-point loss to North Ballarat.
Ballarat, playing in daylight hours for the first time of the season, started round three horrifically.
Momentum from an opening-day win and a close loss to one of the competition's best sides was quickly quashed by an 11.7 (73) to 3.5 (23) first-half against Redan.
Slow starts would be the Swans' shortcoming all year.
In total, Ballarat only won three opening terms - the second-worst first-quarter record in the league, only better than winless Darley.
A five-point defeat against Lake Wendouree saw the losing streak extend to three games before a needed win against Darley stopped the fall.
The success would only prove momentary. The Swans were left to dwell on a four-goal loss to Sunbury for three weeks as the season entered its first COVID-forced break.
Ballarat joined the league at a turning point.
Joe Carmody's side sat seventh, just two wins to its name. Josh Gibson was yet to play, Andrew Hooper had managed just one game, and one of the Swans' best, Bailey Van de Heuvel, was tied up playing for Footscray's VFL side.
Kind fixtures did not await Ballarat either. In one month, the Swans were scheduled to play the top three finishers from 2019.
Ballarat returned from the first COVID setback to stun the competition.
Josh Gibson's debut and Andrew Hooper's comeback would have been enough to grab headlines, but the Swans came from behind to upset reigning premiers East Point.
Momentum would carry into the following weekend - a 75-point triumph against Melton South that saw Ballarat notch its highest score in four seasons.
A seven-point loss to Melton in round nine tempered excitement, but it wouldn't be long before the Swans dared to dream again.
With a 7.1 (43) to 0.2 (2) opening quarter against Sebastopol on enemy soil, Ballarat demanded the competition take notice.
If their rivals weren't wary then, the Swans amplified the point by entering the top four with a three-goal win.
That would be the last time Ballarat took to the field. Fifty-three days later, the season was over.
When the BFNL tiptoed out for one final round after the second COVID break, the Swans stayed housebound, tied up by the bye.
Had they played one more game, it's likely the Swans would have defended their top-four berth.
However, fifth is definitely a finish worth celebrating when the previous three seasons hadn't seen Ballarat move out of the bottom two.
From the depths, Ballarat became a flag contender.
How far would they have gone?
No one will know.
Joe Carmody has committed to another two seasons at the helm and will get to the chance to capitalise on his groundwork.
Josh Gibson will likely feature more on the field next year, and injuries and VFL duties might draw an easier hand.
Can the Swans do it again?
Let's hope we find out.
5th, 5 wins, 5 losses, 20pts, 109.57 per cent
Rd 1: beat Bacchus Marsh, 9.12 (66) to 5.10 (40)
Rd 2: def by North Ballarat, 7.18 (60) to 9.8 (62)
Rd 3: def by Redan, 10.12 (72) to 19.12 (126)
Rd 4: def by Lake Wendouree, 9.7 (61) to 9.12 (66)
Rd 5: beat Darley, 15.14 (104) to 11.6 (72)
Rd 6: def by Sunbury, 7.12 (54) to 12.6 (78)
Rd 7: beat East Point, 9.17 (71) to 9.11 (65)
Rd 8: beat Melton South, 19.13 (127) to 8.4 (52)
Rd 9: def by Melton, 6.8 (44) to 7.9 (51)
Rd 10: beat Sebastopol, 13.7 (85) to 9.13 (67)
Rd 11: BYE